What is parental alienation?

Whilst there is no single definition of parental alienation, it is recognised by the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) as when a child’s resistance or hostility towards one parent is not justified and is the result of psychological manipulation by the other parent. 

A child’s feelings can be influenced by the parent with whom they live, who subconsciously or consciously alienates the child against the non-resident parent. 

Parental alienation also occurs if a child has been deliberately coerced or pressured to align themselves to one parent by the other parent.

Signs of alienating behaviours

Indicators of alienation can include: 

  • One parent belittling the other parent
  • Stopping a child from talking about the other parent
  • Creating the impression the other parent does not love the child 

It is harmful for children to be exposed to alienating behaviours, and it may be necessary to make an application to the Family Court for a Child Arrangements Order. This way, the concerns can be formally investigated, and the court can consider how any relationship can safely be restored between the child and parent. 

Dealing with parental alienation?

If an application is made to the court, Cafcass can make recommendations to the court as to what referrals, intervention or support is needed to end or reduce any impact on the child concerned. 

If the parent with whom a child lives is not able to meet the child’s needs and allow them to have a relationship with the other parent, the court can change the child’s living arrangements if it is considered in the best interest of the child to do so.

Cases involving parental alienation are complex. If you are concerned about parental alienation, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible. 

Here to help

The Family Law Team at Myerson are all members of Resolution, an organisation of family professionals committed to promoting a constructive approach to family issues that consider the whole family's needs. If you have any more questions or would like more information regarding parental alienation, you can contact our Family Law Team below.

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